Here are some of questions that we get frequently. We thought sharing them may help people understand more about our business.
I have a set of chairs that need some attention. Can you fix them?
Yes! Chairs are some of the most common types of furniture in need of repair, mostly because they get so much use. Plus, we all like to lean back in them which stresses the joinery (we're guilty of that as well). Broken spindles and stretchers, loose legs, missing pieces: we've got you covered. In need of rush or caned seats or some upholstery work? While we don't offer those services in house, we can help connect you with local artisans who specialize in those trades.
Do you make house calls?
We do make house calls! Certain types of repairs and touch ups can sometimes be done in your home with minimal disruption to your daily life. More involved repairs or finish work generally makes more sense being completed at our studio. We can discuss the issue with your furniture and determine if a house call is your best option.
How long will it take to finish my project?
Each project is different but we do our best to give you a general idea of project time frames when we do estimates. Our process means no shortcuts can be taken and still have the job done right. In general, a 'quick turnaround' project for us is 3 - 4 weeks (things like tightening chairs and other items not needing major finish work). Projects with a broader scope of work and/or requiring more involved finish treatments can take 4-8 weeks or longer. The amount of work in the studio at any given time also plays a role in how quickly projects can be completed. (The COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to longer than anticipated time frames as delays in the supply chain occur. We're doing our best, we promise!)
Need your project completed by a particular date or for an event? We often have a backlog of work so planning ahead, even if your deadline is months away, greatly increases the likelihood of success. For example, inquiring about having your dining table restored in late spring or early summer ensures you'll beat the early-fall rush to have it completed by Thanksgiving.
How much will my project cost? I can send a photo.
Photos can be helpful in determining the scope of work needed for your project, but to be able to provide an accurate estimate we will need to see the piece in real life. Why? Certain finish issues are difficult to photograph. Similarly, photos rarely convey the extent of things like loose veneer, poorly working drawers, or loose joints. All theses things can radically change treatment, project time frame, and pricing and we'd rather provide you with the most accurate estimate right from the start. In general, we are usually able to provide a very general estimate of costs from photos. An in person examination of your project will ultimately dictate the final estimate. Pricing is also subject to change it the scope of the project changes.
Can you get rid of white, hazy rings on my table?
If the rings are faint and just on the surface of the finish, we may be able to remove them with a house call. White rings that penetrate deeper into the finish may require more involved work at our studio. The good news is white rings are in the finish only, not in the wood.
The white rings are trapped moisture in the finish. We've heard of lots of home remedies over the years. While some have had success with them, there's not one out there that we can recommend. (Most involve food items like olive oil or mayonnaise, both of which will turn rancid in the wood of your table. Please don't use them on your furniture.) It is also very easy to create other problems when using home remedies so we suggest allowing us to assist you.
To avoid white rings, make sure you have a good barrier against heat and moisture. Hot dishes, condensation from glassware, and spills can all lead to white rings. Table pads, non-heat conductive trivets, place mats, and coasters all help protect against white rings.
What about black rings or splotches? I want those removed.
Black rings and other dark splotches are a completely different problem. These marks are a result of a substance that has either stained the wood or through a chemical reaction with the wood has turned black. There are ways to deal with these stains, but they are more involved than dealing with white rings. The goal is to have these types of blemishes go away 100%, but that is not always possible. Sometimes, we can only reduce their appearance, leaving a faint 'shadow' of the problem. Sometimes it's a 90% improvement, sometimes only 10%.
Another type of dark splotch or mark you might encounter are burns. Whether left by candles or cigarettes, burns are more difficult to disguise because the wood itself has undergone some level of carbonization. We are able to touch up these areas to help minimize their appearance.
My furniture was damaged by an accident in my home. My insurance company needs an estimate for repair. Can you assist?
We are happy to provide an estimate for repair caused by flooding, fire, or other unexpected 'surprises' life throws at you. We will provide you with an estimate you can submit to your insurance company to help return your furniture back to its condition before the damage occurred. Please keep in mind, we are not appraisers and cannot assess the value of your furniture.
The movers broke a piece of my furniture but are only offering a few dollars to compensate for the damage! Why is that?
We hate seeing moving damage, but it happens frequently. Even a very careful move by an experienced mover results in damage sometimes. If you only use the mover's basic insurance to cover your items, they are only responsible to compensate you for around 60 cents per pound of the item. You can imagine, this amount won't make a large dent in the cost to restore your piece. Extra insurance, either through the moving company or a third-party, is recommended to protect your cherished items regardless of monetary value.
Similar to doing an estimate for an insurance company, we can provide you with an estimate to submit to your movers to see if they will cover the cost of restoration.
If your furniture is damaged during a move, make sure any broken pieces are found and kept with the damaged piece. If we can reuse an original part, that will bring the cost down.
Do you deliver and pick up furniture? Can I drop off / pick up my project?
We routinely pick up and deliver furniture. If it is a larger item, just let us know if you are able to assist in moving it or if we need to bring a second person with us (for an additional fee). All of our pricing includes pickup and delivery.
You are more than welcome to drop off or pick up your furniture at our studio. This can help reduce the cost of your project. Keep in mind, we are open by appointment only and it is vital that you schedule any delivery or pick up well in advance. Be sure to bring an appropriately sized vehicle and have plenty of good padding ready: moving quilts, old comforters, and even cotton bedding are all good options. The more, the better!
Can I visit your workspace?
We are happy to have visitors, whether you are dropping off a project or are just interested in seeing our studio. However, you still have to schedule an appointment ahead of time (preferably with a few days notice). With an appointment on our calendar, we can be sure to be available for you and not out on a delivery, or at the hardware store, or right in the middle of a complicated glue up when you arrive. Dropping by unannounced (or giving very little notice) is strongly discouraged.
Why use shellac instead of lacquer or polyurethane?
You're probably used to the shellac available at your local hardware store, which is usually not the best quality. Those cans of pre-made shellac can be quite old before you even purchase it and shellac loses its ability to cure properly with age. We make our own shellac in house in small batches as needed so it will always cure as it should. Our shellac is also thinner than store bought as we find that the 'many thin coats' approach yields a harder more durable finish than applying 'just a few thick coats'.
There are finishes out there that are 'tougher' than shellac. But these finishes trade clarity and repairability for that toughness. Because shellac is so repairable should an issue arise, we consider it is a far superior finish than most. It is also more period appropriate for some furniture than modern day lacquers and urethanes. We do offer oil varnish options (also repairable) where appropriate.
What's the best glue for repairs?
You might be surprised to find that glue 'strength' is only part of the equation when deciding on an appropriate adhesive. Properly aligning the break, adequate clamping pressure, and the type of adhesive are more important. We prefer to use reversible glues when possible. You won't find hot melt glue or a particular 'primate' branded glue amongst our adhesive choices.
Your basic carpenters' glue is probably plenty strong for most jobs and readily accessible from most hardware stores. (Unless you absolutely need waterproof versions of these glues, we don't recommend them.) If your repair doesn't work out as planned, we can largely undo these types of glues if you call on our assistance. Hide glue is our most reversible adhesive and is frequently found on period furniture.
We've found that the expanding foam nature of some polyurethane based glues (like the one with the primate on the label) may be better suited towards other crafts and we do not recommend them for furniture repairs. They lack the reversibility we endorse and will need to be removed with hand tools in order to complete the repair properly. This can greatly increase the cost of repair. If you are unsure of what glue to use than it is best to let us assist you.
Do you take credit cards? What about Venmo or PayPal?
Currently, we only accept cash or checks. A 25% deposit is due at pick up for projects over $500 with the balance due when you receive your furniture back. Items that cannot be delivered or picked up within 30 days of completion, we do charge a storage fee. (See policies for more on storage fees.)
If you know that making payment with cash or check may pose a problem, let us know! We can work together to come up with a solution if we know ahead of time.
Do you have a face mask policy?
Yes, and our face mask policy is still in effect. We feel it is best to take every precaution for mutual safety. This means everyone wears a snug fitting mask that fully covers their nose and mouth whether you are in our studio or we are in your home. And yes, this still applies if you have received a full vaccine dose including the booster(s). We assess conditions at the beginning of each and adapt the policy when we feel is it is needed.
We take your health and safety very seriously. We only ask for the same treatment in return.
Is my piece of furniture even worth restoring?
As tastes in decor change, so does the monetary value of furniture. In recent years, lower monetary value has been more of the trend when it comes to antique furniture. This means that often times, the cost to restore must be weighed against the cost of replacing the furniture. Ultimately, that decision is up to you.
Most of the projects we work on are family heirlooms or are pieces that have a strong emotional attachment to the owner. For these projects, replacement may be out of the question regardless of its monetary value (low or high). All of the projects we work on are equally valued in our eyes because our client's value their pieces. We offer the best service we can whether your piece is worth $40 or $40,000. We don't believe in 'tugging at your heartstrings' to guilt you into restoring a piece you don't want to invest in.
Can I buy French polish?
French polish is more of a process than a product. To French polish something is to slowly build up very thin films of shellac by using cotton wadding wrapped in a tightly woven cotton cloth, called a 'rubber'. The finisher must gently 'glide' the rubber over the surface while paying attention to their speed, movements, and pressure all while 'squeezing' out a very small amount of shellac. Gradually, alcohol is also added to the rubber which helps the shellac flow and helps polish the surface. Temperature and humidity also play a major role in how quickly the finisher makes their movements and how much shellac they can use at any given time. The process is time consuming, but the results are like no other.
An old shellac finish can be cleaned and French polished and the new shellac will make a permanent bond. A piece of furniture can also be French polished from raw wood.
So while you can buy shellac, you can't buy French polish. (But you can hire us to French polish for you!)